Men from the beginning of time have been tasked with being the provider and source of stability for the rest of society. Much, if not sometimes all, of a mans self worth is placed on his performance. Not only are men expected to climb the corporate ladder in order to provide the latest and greatest things for themselves and their family, men are expected to be the pursuer of the opposite sex if they stand any chance of gaining a meaningful romantic relationship.
So, what happens when that performance begins to drop? What happens when a man misses out on a promotion due to his superiors playing favorites? What happens when a man stops hearing from the woman he saw a future with only to find out she’s now with an athlete who makes seven figures and drives a Lamborghini? For him, his world has momentarily ended. Yet we as a society turn a blind eye to the smoke signals men are lighting when their world is crumbling. It’s time that has changed.
According to governmental studies, men are more susceptible than women to use any sorts of illicit drugs , and such drug use has shown to result in hospitalization of men at a higher rate than women (1). Along those same lines, The Journal of Adolescent Health notes a connection between college aged men drinking alcohol and abusing prescription drugs while no such correlation was found in women (2). Furthermore, the National Institute of Health notes in their article titled “Sex differences, Gender and Addiction” that while certain individuals are more prone to addiction, it is not a foregone conclusion that those prone to addiction will surely become addicts (3).
Todays media is riddled with stories of men who experience trauma which leads to any number of addictions. One would only need to watch an episode of Cops to see such behavior displayed. Ladies and gentlemen, we can do better to help our men, and we desperately need to do better.
Take, for example, a man who has shown to exhibit violent anger outbursts. Anger is often called a secondary emotion because it is often used to mask other feelings we wish to hide. These suppressed emotions can range from guilt to fear to feelings of being unimportant or devalued. In these kind of situations my first reaction is to ask myself “what is the underlying emotion behind the one displayed?”. Once we can see the root of the anger we can begin to address it. In this situation taking the angry outburst at face value would be like plugging a hole in the Hoover Dam with chewing gum, it may work for a minute but eventually the underlying issue will surface.
So, what can we do? I believe we need to start looking for the reasons behind behaviors. Nobody wakes up and decides they want to become an addict that day. Nobody decides it is a good idea to lash out in anger at those they love and risk alienating them. However, our brains are powerful and capable of causing us to act out in ways we think are protecting us when in reality we are sinking deeper into more undesirable emotions and behaviors. Only love can halt the negative effects of such thinking and often men cannot do it under their own power. It’s time we stepped up and helped each other become better people.